Srinagar: Six days after Mohammad Ashraf Sehraie assumed the office of Chairman Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, his son has gone missing from home and seems to have joined militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen.
Kashmir Inspector General of Police SP Pani confirmed to Kashmir Reader that Sehraie’s son, Junaid Ashraf Khan, is missing and his family has filed a missing report at police station Saddar on Saturday.
At around 1pm on Friday, the 30-year-old Junaid left his home in Baghat, Srinagar, to offer Friday prayers and since then has not returned, according to his family.
Junaid completed a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at Kashmir University in 2014-15. After he went missing from home, a photo of Junaid appeared on Saturday, showing him clutching an AK-47 rifle. The text on the photo gave his name, alias, qualification and announced that he had joined the Hizbul Mujahideen on March 24, 2018, that is, Saturday. Junaid’s nom de guerre in the Hizb has been shown as Amaar, one who prays five times and fasts.
Director General of Police Shesh Paul Vaid said they are still verifying the authenticity of the photo. “The family filed a missing report and we are investigating the case,” he said.
Vaid suggested the Sehraie family to appeal to their son to return home and shun militancy.
Junaid’s brother-in-law, Younis Ahmad Rather, told Kashmir Reader that they learnt about Junaid joining militancy through the photo, just hours after filing the missing report with the police.
He explained that Junaid left home on Friday for offering prayers at Wazir Khan Masjid in Baghat and told his family he would go to Lal Chowk for repairing his mobile handset.
Younis described Junaid as “more hardline than his father” and that he denounced the ISIS, the Islamic State outfit.
In his last week’s Facebook post, Junaid had described the acronym ISIS as “Israeli secret intelligence service”.
“Islamic super state…not daesh or isis (israeli secret intelligence service),” he wrote.
“He (Junaid) was highly religious and very close to his abba (Sehraie). He would spend time reading at his home for days together. He was against ISIS and described it as Israel’s proxy,” said Younis who along with Sehraie’s another son filed missing complaint with police.
Ashraf Sehraie, soon after assuming charge of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, said in an interview to a daily newspaper, “Those raising ISIS flags are strengthening the roots of occupation in Kashmir”.
According to Younis, when Ashraf Seharie learnt of his son’s joining Hizb, he told Younis that it was his son’s “choice”.
“If he has chosen his path, it is his choice,” Younis quoted Sehraie as having said.
Junaid had a case registered against him in 2016 for his involvement in stone throwing and had appeared in the court hearing once in the case.
Junaid was the youngest among his six siblings, who include two sisters. Two of his brothers are working in the Gulf and the other one in a private company in Srinagar.
Last year, Younis said, Junaid had joined the company Paytm, an e-payments and e-commerce brand, but then put in his papers after the company’s manager came to his home to verify if was not lying about his staying home for a day. “That made him quit the job and he was now staying home,” Yoinis said.
Seharie, a longtime associate and friend of Geelani for the past more than five decades, is known for his hardline stand like his “Rehbar” Geelani, but has maintained a low profile in the pro-freedom amalgam. He became the TeH chairman after Geelani made an announcement about this early this week.
A senior police officer, who has served in Kashmir for nearly a decade, argued that Junaid’s joining the armed militancy would end the argument that “leaders safeguard their children”. “He (Sehraie) will not be taunted like Geelani,” he told Kashmir Reader.
The news of Junaid’s joining militancy sparked a debate on social media. Many argued that it was for the first time that the son of a top pro-freedom leader had joined militancy, hence setting a precedent.
A journalist who has covered the region for the past three decades, however, pointed out that Jamaat chiefs Hakeem Ghulam Nabi and Sheikh Mohammad Hassan’s sons were killed as militants. “Junaid’s case is not the first,” he said.
Amir Hussain, a Phd student at Islamia Jamia Millia University Delhi, whose key research areas are religion and motivation with emphasis on Hizbul Mujahideen agreed with the journalist. “Sehraie’s son’s case is not unique. Jamaat leaders have a history of sending their sons to join militancy,” he said.
“In 1990s, Jamaat was officially or unofficially the only religious group to back militancy. It had a kickback effect in the sense that what Jamaat practised on street had to come home as well. Militants coming from such households discovered gaps between the conversations at home and those taking place outside,” Hussain said.